Pile O' Eagles

I debated about putting up this post. I was worried that folks who are of the glass half empty persuasion might find it depressing. But when I worry about a post I go back to my standard test--would I find this interesting? Yes, I would! So here it goes.

Some days you just have odd moments in your life. Tuesday at The Raptor Center, while grabbing some food down in the clinic I passed a pile of filled plastic bags. A couple were clear and I could see that inside each bag was a bald eagle. I never expected to ever walk by a pile of bald eagles.

When a bird dies at TRC, they are frozen and then periodic shipments are made to the feather bank. This is where Native Americans can apply to get feathers for religious ceremonies. As one of the vets began packing up the boxes for the rock hard frozen birds to be shipped, I couldn't resist picking one up and looking it over. Even though only 12 pounds it was still heavy.

I asked the vet if he had heard about the 18 pound golden eagle that was banded in Wyoming. He said he wasn't too surprised. Last spring TRC released a 16 pound bald eagle. As a matter of fact, I took her photo during the release last May.

That's when I noticed its bill. Can you make out the the puncture marks on the upper mandible? Those punctures came from the bill of another bald eagle. This bird lost a fight with another bald eagle which has become an increasing occurrence in Minnesota. We now have a healthy and stable population and rumor has it bald eagles will be taken off of the Endangered Species List this year.

On the one hand it's sad to look at a dead adult bald eagle, but on the other hand it's encouraging that not every bird comes to the clinic because it was shot but because of something that would happen naturally--two birds fighting to the death over territory, food or even a mate.

Okay, now for a cleansing photo:

A live, healthy, disapproving eagle.